Founders of Make A Scene and preservers of leaf weaving
We don't want weaving to die out; we want young people to join us and continue this craft. Weaving can be exciting and cool.
Tell us your story – how did you get here?
I am a British theatre designer who moved to Bali five years ago in search of inspiration to expand my creativity. Serendipitously, I came across Gus Ari, a master weaver of coconut leaf, and his team of weavers in Mengwi. They were reintroducing natural woven ‘dekorasi’ for their local weddings, to replace the environmentally damaging polystyrene ‘dekorasi’ which was so popular and widely accepted.
I was bowled over by the beauty of their weaving. This was weaving in a whole different light. For me it was Art. I instantly knew I had found a very special material that excited me and would become my new source of inspiration and focus. Gus Ari, a very progressive Balinese man, was equally excited by the idea of a collaboration, and together we formed Make A Scene.
Over the years, our collective has taken weaving to levels even we could not have foreseen. All of the craftsmen and women join Gus Ari and myself in adapting and challenging ourselves to make new breakthroughs in our work. We are proud of our sustainable products and we know that we have inspired other ‘makers’ to turn green, a movement that gains impetus in Bali, year upon year. At the same time, we have turned weaving leaf into a highly sought after and admired art form.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Developing and launching our Tipat and Silver Jewellery Collection during Covid. During Covid when there were no work commissions forthcoming, we had to dig deep to preserve our creativity and ensure our time wasn’t wasted. We pivoted from large-scale installations and objects to more delicate creations of adornment and body decoration.
Exporting our work to the USA and putting Bali on an international stage is another proud moment for us. We have created window displays and in-store arrangements for John Hardy New York and for a further 10 of their stores across the United States.
What impact have you made in Bali?
In the initial years we helped to lead and inspire a Green Movement across the island – reintroducing natural woven ‘dekorasi’ to replace the environmentally damaging polystyrene ‘dekorasi’.
With each year and each exciting client, our innovative and contemporary designs prove that traditional methods can keep up with contemporary demands and can continue to surprise and excite. We are actively changing the mindset that weaving is for the older generations, or that it’s dated. We don’t want weaving to die out; we want young people to join us and continue this craft. Weaving can be exciting and cool. It is very rare to be able to weave to these standards and our reputation is growing in Bali and internationally.
What does 2022 look like for you?
After such a long gap due to Covid, we’ll be returning to design for big events in Bali and new commissions. Our Tipat and Silver Jewellery is now also exclusively stocked at Biasa.
What do you love most about Bali?
Everywhere you go in Bali, you are able to absorb inspiration from the surrounding environment. Whether it is sitting in a temple, or watching a sacred dance performance with incense, masks and puppetry. Or even joining the Galungan celebrations and Ogoh-Ogoh parades on Nyepi, where bamboo penjors line the streets. Or quite simply soaking up the ‘scenes’ you might encounter on a bike ride in and around Ubud.
In your opinion, what’s the most inspiring design space in Bali?
The artists’ workshops and tiny studios that you find on the sides of the roads, or hidden down a gang. Incredible creativity is happening in the most unlikely of places and spaces in Bali – you just have to stumble across it and be prepared to go off the beaten track.
Other honourable mentions include the John Hardy Kapal Showroom in Ubud, or the exciting, contemporary art at Nyaman Gallery, Seminyak. Bambu Indah is another special place for me; it’s an eco-boutique hotel in Ubud designed by John and Cynthia Hardy. It’s like stepping into a fairytale.
Who is your Local Legend and why?
Kita Poleng – ‘Modern day meets ancient tradition’ through performance art and art films. In addition, they also support the Deaf community.
Also, Udianata for his sculptural bamboo masterpieces.